Sole Searching

Our favorite shoe designers to watch. By Erin Wylie
With Louboutin's candy-apple red soles becoming as ubiquitous as Paris Hilton sightings, and Pierre Hardy's coutourtorous designs as wearable as a Jeff Koons sculpture, you know it's time to look further for an elegantly accessible shoe. Lesser-known labels that still pack the same distinctive punch continue to be a rare breed, however, these six inspiring collections are putting their best feet forward (literally).
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Miroike
It's typical for design duos to pair up in school, but there's nothing remotely pedestrian about Miroike, designed by Ramiro Calderon Alvarado and Ulrike Seidel who partnered in a class taught by Vivienne Westwood in Berlin. Their atypical fashion sense is applied to everything from clothing (a dress with the oversized diamond quilting of an ornate velvet chair) to accessories (visors made from lace and a plastic shopping bag reinterpreted in luxe leather). But shoes have become the mainstay of their label. The innovatively draped leather boots are replicas of the makeshift footwear from their graduation collection: socks wrapped around the models' own pumps. Their current reinterpretations feature rich leathers that are wrapped tightly over the boot, bunching up around the heel and toe to create the perfect slouchy boot with a touch of class. Available at No.6, 6 Centre Market Place, New York, (212) 226-5759. For more information, go to www.miroike.com
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Scorah Pattullo
Scorah Pattullo started out as a London shoe boutique opened by Johnnie Pattullo, an ex-model and actor, and Frances Scorah, a former buying director at French Connection. But with the help of Danish designer Rikke Hjelde (formerly at Alexander McQueen) they've launched an incredibly cool range of classic-looking shoes with a twist—from lace-up pumps to velvet platform sandals. Their buckle-down shoe booties in glittery star-printed suede and soft winter-white leather are currently setting our hearts aflutter. And we're not the only ones taking note: Marios Schwab (who scooped the Best New Designer title at the British Fashion Awards) tapped Scorah Pattullo to create the shoes for his spring collection. For availability, go to www.scorahpattullo.com
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Bruno Bordese
The Turin-born, Milan-based Bruno Bordese often attempts to collapse the boundaries between men's and women's footwear with his Clone line—the masculine shapes are balanced by the super-soft, worn-looking leathers with metallic hints via nail-head studs and brushed-off metallic coatings. There's nothing more appealing to wear with an old batik dress for spring than the designer's squashy, tumbled leather ballerinas and soft-soled jazz shoes. For availability, go to www.clone-italia.com
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Beatrix Ong
Beatrix Ong has been touted the new "Jimmy Choo," but besides having designed for Choo, her eponymous collections bear little resemblance. Whereas Choo is famous for his vertiginous stilettos, Londoner Ong creates wearable luxury: her couture-like creativity is met with carefully researched comfort. Signature scrolling arabesque cutouts and origami-like appliqués turn simple pumps and boots into works of art. Which is something that is close to Ong's heart: She recently tapped British artist, Natasha Law (Jude's sis), to illustrate her shoe boxes. For availability, go to www.beatrixong.com
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Glory Chen
San Francisco-based label, Glory Chen, is more concerned with the architecture of footwear than with the trends that propel it forward. This largely has to do with designer Joy Chen's background in graphic design, sculpture and painting. While we're not sure how her concentration in postmodern typography and German design movements manifests in the shoes, we certainly appreciate the hand-sculpted heels (some faceted like diamonds) and the emphasis on comfort. The nude-colored, pinched-toe pump with a thick woven strap will become our staple for spring. For availability, go to www.glorychen.com
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Finsk
"A shoe is like a chair," says Finnish-born designer Julia Lundsten. And from the look of recent collections, her designs are the Eames of footwear. Each season she creates elegant, sculptural heels from Finnish birch-wood, with its rings and knots sometimes stained varying colors, and tops it off with pieced leather uppers that bear dimensional leather squiggles and flaps. We love the pristine-meets-punk feel of the slashed leathers and the way a pleated-leather detail mimics the gills of a fish.
For availability, go to www.finsk.com
Our favorite shoe designers to watch.
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